Multiple Myeloma Patient Has “Vision” for Future

3 min read  |  March 05, 2024  | 

When Debbie Thibos had a backache that wouldn’t go away, she never thought it was cancer.

“With tears in my eyes, I just said, ‘Something is seriously wrong.’ That’s when we found out that I had a tumor on my spine,” Debbie says.

Debbie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. She went to see Benjamin Diamond, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist specializing in multiple myeloma at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in the United States. It’s a cancer of white blood cells that live in the bone marrow and it can cause fractures, it can cause low blood counts, and it can cause kidney failure. In the last five years, there’s been a remarkable explosion of new therapies that are revolutionizing the field,” Dr. Diamond says.

Dr. Diamond says multiple myeloma is not curable but is highly treatable. Each patient goes through genetic testing in order to create targeted therapies specific for their disease.

“Everybody responds a little bit differently to therapy, and everybody’s disease behaves a little bit differently. So, it’s the perfect place to try a precision medicine approach. We use very state-of-the-art, next generation sequencing and flow cytometry tests, basically to assess how much disease there is in the bone marrow before and after therapy. We use imaging and we use blood work to figure out what should be the therapy that we choose for each patient,” says Dr. Diamond.

Debbie had immunotherapy treatment using a combination of four drugs. She created a vision board to stay focused on the future.

“I put on there going to Disney, going up to the mountains, just being with my family, having birthdays together,” Debbie says.

Sylvester’s Myeloma Institute is committed to finding a cure.

“We have a group of people growing probably over 50, 60 people at this point that are all dedicated to this disease and this disease alone. So that’s nurses, nurse practitioners, researchers. There are faculty clinicians, there’s pharmacists, there’s clinical research support staff, and there’s even scientists that are all working together just to fight this disease,” Dr. Diamond says.

Debbie’s cancer is now in remission. She’s grateful to be enjoying time with her twin grand girls again.

“That was my greatest gift. I just was so blessed,” says Debbie.

Video transcript compiled by Janna Ross for ‘Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine,’ a series of health care-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10.  For more stories like this one, visit UHealth’s YouTube channel.

Tags: blood cancer, Dr. Benjamin Diamond, focusing on you, hematologist, multiple myeloma, oncologist, Sylvester Myeloma Institute

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